Posts from May 2008

Googlers and Microsofters Get on the Bus...

For the past 2 to 3 years, ever since I got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on my way back from the Big Apple, when I go to New York I take the train.
It is a reliable, punctual, relaxing ride.
I can read, go over my notes, take a nap or whatever else I feel like.
All things I could not do if driving obviously.
Best of all a round trip ticket is around $10.
It is also more energy efficient and pollutes less.
A combination of these factors are behind the fact that companies such as Google (in California, since 2004) and Microsoft with The Connector (in Seattle, since September 2007) and Zurich Insurance in Europe offer Shuttle Buses to their employees.
In Sit back, relax and enjoy the work, Rhymer Rigby (Financial Times) mentions Green issues as one of the factors behind these offerings.
Another one can be to remedy the lack in some areas of reliable public transportation.
Rhymer Rigby notes that even though both Google and Microsoft buses are equipped with Free Wi-Fi some riders relax with a deck of cards.
With the price of gas ever higher, these services can amount to significant savings for employees as Jean-Baptiste Queru calculates in a blog post live from the Google Bus (November 2007).

Another plus is you will not have to call the office to let the know that you are running late, you are already on company property after all.

When such perks are not available, we might all be wise to consider car pooling whenever it is possible, not to forget telecommuting on some days.

Close enough to work, ride your bike to work and get your work out.

Have you changed the way you commute lately?

Does it make for a better day?

Going public on Green Day #30

Related: Less Gas, More Sweat: Bike to Work Week 2008

and Take the test 'Are you Green for Telework'

Feeling Time Deprived on Memorial Day? Time is In Our Hands

Since Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer season here in the U.S what could be a better topic than Time, the perceived lack of it and the pressures it brings into our daily life.
A day like today should be a chance for idle time might instead turn into cramming as much activity as one can as we feel time is fleeting.
What got me down that path was reading Time in our hands by Stephen Cave (in this week-end's Financial Times).
This review of three books on the topic of time pressures leads to a reflection on how we can bring back balance and sanity to our days.
Part of the problem is too much choice. With choice comes responsibility and the need to make more and more decisions when time is actually a scarce commodity.


Quoting the authors of Discretionary time: A New Measure of Freedom, Stephen Cave notes that our tribal ancestors met their daily needs with only a few hours activity.
They might be the true inspiration for The 4 Hour Workweek.
Granted they did not have to work ever more hours for the perceived need for a flat screen TV, expensive college tuition, cellphones and other tech gadgets.

On a personal level, I do not need to look as far back as the cavemen to find times when vacations had real meaning.
I have fond memories of the month long stay in the Pyrenees with my parents and siblings in the summer.

We might all benefit from reading the latest book by Stefan Klein, The Secret Pulse of Time: Making Sense of Life's Scarcest Commodity (in the UK: Time: A User's Guide).
The book main point according to Stephen Cave "is not that we have too much to do and too little time but that we are too easily distracted and do not focus on making the most of the days we have. The solution: unplug the TV, switch off the mobile phone and do something that will stand the test of time".

Leigh Dayton tells us that Stefan Klein's laugh zips down the phone line in an interview for The Australian (February 2008). Only natural as the author's previous book was titled The Science of Happiness.

To conclude If we stop spending our days on time wasters and instead use the hours we regained for something meaningful or just to watch the river flow and enjoy the moment, happiness might be around the corner.

Idle thoughts on Memorial Day 2008 for Monday Work Etiquette #39

Perfect Soundtrack? Time is on my side

Related: Sleep Deprived Anyone? Why I should sleep more?
and Leisure is Vital...Work and Play in Scandinavia

New York City Lecture: Citizen movements in the U.S and Japan, May 27 (via Philip Glass 'Satyagraha')

The mind needs to be nourished as does the body.
On May 27, the Japan Society in New York City offers a lecture titled Reflections on Citizen Movements: Peace and Politics in the U.S & Japan.
Activist and former California State Senator Tom Hayden and James Orr, Chair of the Department of East Asian Studies at Bucknell University and author of The Victim as Hero: Ideologies of Peace and National Identity in Postwar Japan (2001) will look at how "nonviolent citizen movements for peace, environmental change and social justice in the United States and Japan have caused social and political change in both nations ".
It is part of the Satya Graha Forum , a series of events throughout New York inspired by Philip Glass's opera Satyagraha recent performance at the Metropolitan Opera.

Related: Art of Improvisation in Jazz, Life and Crises

Is 'The End of the Budget Airline' Near asks Dan Milmo (The Guardian)

As American Airlines cut its scheduled flights this week and Air France-KLM warned of reduced profits because of the continued rise in the price of jet fuel, will we see The end of the Budget Airline asks Dan Milmo (The Guardian, May 23rd)?

His piece focuses mainly on Europe's two biggest players, Ryanair and Easy Jet.
Will week-ends with the lads in Prague or the Baltic republics become a thing of the past?
How will Europeans who have residences in two countries adjust?
Maybe it will mean a smaller number of airlines, less flights and in a positive twist a less frenetic life?

In the meantime, you can check some Low Cost Travel options by location on Attitude Travel.

A few months from now we might see how things really shape up.

Will I still be able to afford a September visit to Europe?

Related: Recession Proofing! From Consumed to Thrifty? European Vacations 

Will High Oil Prices mark the Return of the Neighborhood Restaurant?

As oil prices keep going up and up, will we think twice before driving 30 minutes or more to a destination restaurant and instead settle for a nearby eaterie, maybe even one within walking distance.
In the consumed to thrifty spirit, you might even cut your bill by selecting a BYOB (bring your own bottle) establishment.
Walking has its perks such as burning calories on the way back home and not having to worry about driving while tipsy.

Some local sites such as Buffalo Rising give plenty of examples of Eat Local options.
Further from my New Jersey digs, Denver Westword picked Sixth Avenue as its Best New Restaurant Neighborhood in 2007.
Another resource that I just discovered is Urban Spoon which tracks the ups and downs of favorite restaurants in cities such as St Louis, Kansas City, Seattle to name a few...
As for Foodist Colony, it is all bout the New York restaurant scene.

So personally, have you changed your eating out habits, are you eating local, have you cut down on your visits to restaurants and instead cook more.

Any other local guides you would suggest?

Not so local (for me that is): Is 'La Bigarrade' the 'It' Restaurant in Paris as 'Umami' suggests?

Working 90 Hours, Paid for 50: Is it Worth it? Are you Rested?

Can you get so sucked into a job that you end up working way too many hours?
What percentage of your time is really productive?
At what point does tiredness take over and you are just walking through the motions?
Why would you kill yourself with a crazy schedule if on top of that you are on salary with no bonus and there is no icing on the cake beyond the 50 hours (per week) mark?
Maybe it is time to hire an 'agent' who will stop the nonsense right there and get you a better deal.
I was pondering all this after noticing how a recent story I wrote on sleep deprivation echoed with a lot of people.
Where do you draw the line personally?
How do you set the boundaries?

Related: Sleep Deprived Anyone? Why I should sleep more?

From Coil to Rabbit, Incense in all shapes and flavors (via PingMag)

Tracing the origins of incense in Japan, Ryoko (PingMag) writes that "it is believed that it was introduced to Japan in the 6th century, along with Buddhism. At that time, incense consisted simply of small chips from an aromatic tree called “koboku (fragrant wood)”, or a ground powder from that tree".

In her piece, Incense Design of Scent and Form, she looks at history, design and purpose.


In Europe and the US, I have seen incense in the form of sticks but never as the round shaped "neriko" (picture above, from PingMag piece).
It looks especially appealing in that sea shell and Ryoko tells us that either honey or plum flavors these "neriko".


Worth noting are the "Fumiko" paper dolls (picture above, also from PingMag piece), a take on the tradition of "Fumiko" incense powder stylishly wrapped in Japanese paper which Exposhop Japon offers in a variety of styles.

End of the scents for this Tokyo Thursdays #40 (a round number)

Last Thursday: Japanese Delicacies: Monja-yaki (dried squid, corn and cabbage)

Ten Things to EAT! Before They Die...The Menu...May 22nd...Gosforth Park

Some animals get classified as endangered species, some foods are bordering extinction.

To conclude the Eat Newcastle Gateshead food and drink festival in the UK, a special dinner titled Ten Things to EAT! Before They Die will be served on the evening of May 22nd at the Marriott Hotel in Gosforth Park.


These vanishing foods were selected from Slow Food's Ark of Taste which differs in each country.

The Ark of Taste in the US for example includes the Bronx Grapes (not grown in New York but California) and Anishinaabeg Manoomin (Zizania aquatica) an aquatic grass similar  to corn.

Getting back to tonight's dinner, in Endangered foods are worth saving, Jane Hall (Journal Live, Newcastle) shares what's on the menu.

Since she has the most details I could find, I took the liberty to quote it:

Ten things to Eat! Before they die Menu:

:: Canapes: Potted Windermere smoked char with traditional Swiss rye bread, mini bakers with Gouda fondue, Herat raisins with seared monk fish, mini beef Wellingtons, cappacio of venison with Saxon Village cherry preserve
:: Starter: Formby asparagus, Jersey Royal warm salad and Lindisfarne oysters (not endangered) served with Champagne sauce
:: Main course: Poached Herdwick mutton with Saint-Flour Planèze golden lentils and Ballobar capers
:: Dessert: Mananara vanilla cream with pears poached in Three Counties perry :: Cheeses: Artisan Somerset Cheddar, Dorset Blue Vinny, Irish Raw Milk Cow’s Cheese, traditional Gouda
:: Huehuetenango coffee and chocolates from Alnmouth.

Any disappearing food you know of in your corner of the world, feel free to mention it.

Related: 5 Things To Eat Before You Die: A Guide to the Globe


Gained Weight Lately, Share your Food suggests Kohei Nishiyama

 During the reception following the Jazz is Life presentation (Japan Society), I was speaking with Kohei Nishiyama, the diminutive CEO of Japanese design-to-order company elephant design, one of the speakers and mentioned the fact that I gained a few pounds and was eager to shed them.


He offered an interesting suggestion: share your food.
Upon reflection, it is an interesting way of looking at portion control, the idea of giving the food you don't need to eat to others who suffer from hunger instead of becoming fat and complacent.

The Weight-control Information Network (WIN), a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health offers a Just Enough For You guide on food portions.

As Moliere wrote in L'Avare (1668), "Il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger (One must eat to live, and not live to eat)".

Related: Size is not everything, Gospel of Cooking according to Jason Atherton at 'Maze' (London)

Short on Time, with Extra Cash, Will Busy Bees find activities for your kids (in New York)?

Life in New York can be hectic.
With all the information thrown at us regarding local activities, would you pay someone to walk through the maze and be your guide?

Now parents who are short on time but with extra cash to spend can use a service called Busy Bees NYC to schedule activities for their kids.
You give them the age of the child, interests, day, time, neighborhood where you live and they come up with suggestions.
In order to get access to Busy Bees suggestions you will have to sign up for a 1 year membership which costs $499 and  does not include the fees for the individual programs you might sign up for.

Want to kind out more about the service, check their How it Works page.

The calendar function of the program is based on Cozi Central.

Found out about Busy Bees on Springwise.

On online time savers and schedulers:
Zoc Doc...If you are dying to make a Dentist or Doctor apointment...Online